The Franklin County Board of Supervisors approved several changes to how short-term rentals will operate in the county at its meeting Tuesday. The new rules are the first of several possible updates in the coming months.
Short-term rentals are now required to register with the county and pay an annual $200 fee before they can operate. The fee will pay for the cost of an inspection to assure that the rental is meeting the county’s new guidelines and the annual fee from Host Compliance that supervisors approved last month to assist in overseeing short-term rentals in the county.
Host Compliance will oversee registration, monitoring, compliance and enforcement of short-term rentals in the county at an estimated cost of $26,000 per year. The company already oversees short-term rentals in other nearby localities, including Lynchburg.
The new rules approved on Tuesday will also require short-term rentals to post the number of occupants allowed to stay at a home. That number will be limited to two adults per bedroom. The new county code for short-term rentals identifies any person over the age of 3 as an adult.
Some of the other new rules include smoke detectors in all living areas and bedrooms and fire extinguishers on each floor. Occupants are also required to keep vehicles in the assigned parking areas and keep noise at or below that expected in a residential neighborhood.
No residents spoke at the public hearing on May 19 concerning the new rules. Supervisors also had little discussion before approving the changes.
There was some discussion earlier in the meeting on whether to move forward with additional changes to short-term rentals including a lot size minimum and setback minimum for properties as well as considering all short-term rentals to apply for a special-use permit. Currently, only properties zoned A1 require a special use permit to operate a short-term rental.
Short-term rentals are allowed by right for properties zoned PCD and RPD. Short-term rentals are banned in all other zoned areas of the county.
In a split vote, supervisors decided to postpone discussion on the other rule changes until Boone District representative Ronnie Thompson was present. Thompson was absent at Tuesday’s meeting.
In addition to the short-term rental changes, three public hearings were scheduled Tuesday on proposed short-term rentals in the county. Each of the three short-term rentals were located on property zoned A1 that requires a special-use permit.
Boyd Temple of Salem applied for a special-use permit for a short-term rental at his lakefront home just off Scruggs Road in Moneta. The one-bedroom home is located on 3.2 acres is on Strawberry Banks Drive.
William Richardson, resident of the nearby Spinnaker Run neighborhood, was one of two individuals who spoke out against the short-term rental. He said residents of Spinnaker Run were concerned the short-term rental would increase traffic and noise in the community. He also questioned why the property was zoned A1 that allows short-term rentals when the adjoining neighborhood is zoned R1 and does not allow rentals.
“We beg you to not allow this to go through,” Richardson said.
Gills Creek District representative Lorie Smith agreed that a short-term rental was not a good use for the property located next to a neighborhood zoned R1. She also pointed out that the county had received multiple requests to deny the special-use permit.
“We have received numerous letters and emails of residents who are in opposition to a short-term rental on this piece of property,” Smith said.
Blackwater District representative Ronald Mitchell agreed that the board should not approve the special-use permit. He said neighbors should have the right to enjoy quiet without worrying about noise from renters.
Other supervisors questioned if some of the concerns by neighbors were truly warranted. Blue Ridge District representative Tim Tatum said it would be difficult for the rental to be detrimental to neighbors when only two people could stay at the home at a time since it is a one-bedroom home.
“I don’t see where those concerns are adding up to me,” Tatum said.
Smith moved to deny the special-use permit that failed by a 3-3 vote. Smith, Ronald Mitchell and Tatum all voted to deny the special-use permit.
After the motion failed Rocky Mount District representative Mike Carter made a motion to table a vote on the special-use permit until the following meeting in June. The motion was passed with a 6-0-1 vote.
The two other requests for special-use permits for short-term rentals received far less discussion. Supervisors approved a request by Edward and Heather Carter for a short-term rental off Ridgeway Road in Hardy and a request by Bradley Walker for a short-term rental off Ty Valley Lane in Glade Hill.
Supervisors also postponed a request John Mathena to amend multiple conditions made by the board when they granted a special-use permit for a campground off Old Salem School Road in Union Hall. The permit was originally granted in January of 2019.
Mathena requested that the board allow him to substitute a single welded wire fence for the previously approved split-rail fence with wire mesh and to substitute Eastern red cedar trees instead of the approved green giant arborvitae that would be used as a buffer for neighboring property owners along the property line. The changes would be necessary to allow campground plans to continue moving forward, Mathena said.
“The bottom line is if there is not a reduction in some of these requirements, there will not be a campground,” Mathena said.
Mathena also discussed some issues he is having with neighbors who are still against the campground being constructed. He said some neighbors have been a problem for him ever since it was first introduced in 2018.
Cundiff made a motion that the request be postponed until next month to look into the issue and collect more information. Supervisors approved the request with Cater being the lone vote against.
Other matters discussed at Tuesday’s meeting include:
Supervisors approved moving forward with plans to construct an athletic field at the Summit View Business Park. Bowman Excavating was awarded a contract to construct the athletic field for $142,650.
Supervisors also approved moving forward with completing construction documents for a fire and EMS station Glade Hill. The construction documents are needed before county staff can provide a final estimate of the cost of the station to supervisors for consideration.